Reference photo for tapestry

SAL #5 ~ Portsea Cliff

This is where I got to last time…

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Now I can reveal the finished work!

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As you can see I worked on the sand and cliff. I wanted the sand to be unobtrusive, so I chose to do it in a simple half stitch, which linked it into the sky. The cliff, however, needed to be more wild, to create the texture that I love.

(The yarn is another merino wool yarn from Fibreworks. This one was specially dyed for me. It is a colour that, surprisingly, occurs in Australian landscapes. It is wonderful for eucalyptus bark.)

Progress photo…

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The next stage ~ the trunk ~ was trickier, and to be honest, I am not sure it works quite as I wanted it to. I am not sure how the branches merge into the canopy. Any thoughts?

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I tried to include the background colours too. I suspect my problem is that I hadn’t thought it through ~ the original planning was incomplete. That area may well come out. However, I value your thoughts.

One of the things that I do love about this work is that it has brought be back to being creative after many months of obstacles. It has helped me realise that while I am not ready to get back to paint, pencils and paper, I am ready to solve creative problems (which I love doing!) with something that I can pick up and put down with ease.

In fact I have already begun my next SAL project. More of that next time.

There is a great group of creative stitchers involved in this SAL group, organised by Avis. Do drop into their blogs for their latest SAL posts. Prepare to be amazed!

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Sue, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Linda, Heidi, Jackie, Sunny,Hayley, Megan, Deborah, Mary Margaret, Renee, Jenny, Carmela, Jocelyn, Sharon, Daisy, Anne, Connie

 

The Sketchbook in all its glory!

The other day the Fella brought in a box left by the postie. Immediately I knew it was the Sketchbook. Normally I dive right into things, but this was one parcel I wanted to savour. I sat down with a cup of tea, marvelling at the journey it had made. Then I carefully opened the box, and again, just took my time to enjoy looking. There was a card from Trish that I opened and read.

Then it was time to slowly take the sketchbook out of the bubble wrap and hold it in my hands. Oh it felt good! Deliciously fat, full of all the creativity that the Sisters had put in.

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And more delights……Alys had attached some ladybird stickers, to be added next to each Sister’s address before sending on.

Jan had crocheted a pouch with Cambrian wool, “from the flocks of Wales”. The Sketchbook sat snuggly in there.

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Now was the moment to take it out and hold this treasure, that has journeyed around the world, making connections across the lands.

To the pages……and the link to each Sister is her explanation of her contribution.

The front cover is a sketch of sprouting garlic bulb, and it always reminded me of a flying garlic ~ a symbol of the Sketchbook flying around the world.

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Kate’s beautiful quilting and calligraphy is on the first page. The blues in the feather are so rich and strong.

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Then Lyn has done freeform machine stitching and appliqué to create some very cute Sisters holding hands. (Can I be the one with the polka dot bow in her hair?!)

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Sandi, the next contributor, is a very talented poet, and her contribution ‘The Explorer’ continues the sewing theme.

I chose my poem, well before the book began its journey. I watched, via a computer screen, as each creative page was added. I had chosen my poem for its light-heartedness, and reference to embroidery. Little did I know, I would join the small boy in his experience of discovery, when the travelling sketchbook arrived in the mail. The tingle of awe I felt was unexpected. I had reality, wrapped up, in my hands, and I couldn’t wait to touch it.

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M.L. Kappa’s work is on the next spread. The colours of her picture just glow, and the writing is the story of the naming of Athens.

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Then came Chas’s contribution, a map which needed to be unfolded. The first part was her sketch of a painting in the National Gallery of Victoria, honouring women as growers and nurturers.

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Then I unfolded the map of bicycle journey from her home to the National Gallery of Victoria. Such detail, and many of the places I know (but not from riding a bike 😉).

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We leave the bike paths of Melbourne and head to the Welsh hills. (One of the many things I love about this Sketchbook is that the Sisters felt free to add their contribution wherever they wanted to. They are not in the order of the journey.) Jan crocheted tactile, warm spirals out of Cambrian wool. You may not be able to read the message that circles around……

“Encircling the Earth: the skill of our hands, the love in our hearts. Brought together by our creativity and kindness, although we are separated by hundreds of miles….our shared passions bind us together. One sisterhood, representing one world, united in love.”

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Alys’s contribution was another creative one. She used photos of all the contributions so far and made them into a miniature quilt, with one patch saying, “Sisterhood Quilt: Stitching together art and friendship around the globe”.

Sandra’s passion is cooking, so naturally her’s was a recipe, for ratatouille. On the page she has drawn big lush eggplants and a chilli, and it is all on thick paper with deckled edges.

Margaret has added to the quilting theme, again in a different way. She has embroidered nine little squares, each representing an aspect of her favourite walk ~ and the detail needs to be seen in real life. On the other page is an embroidered landscape of Catcalls on Derwentwater. (Lots of inspiration for me here!)

The Sketchbook arrived with Constanze during Winter, as she says “A real one, with snow crunching under my feet and temperatures below freezing.”! Her contribution captures that Winter, with the snow and bare branched trees. (Again, more inspiration for me!)

Turn some pages and there are Sue’s vibrant patchworks. Like all the others, there is so much detail to look at and admire ~ and so tactile! Photos don’t do these pages justice.

Rich is not how much you have, or even where you are going

Rich is who you have beside you

writes Trish. Thoughts that resonate with us all. She has added a rich red, woven shawl to go with her words.

The last contribution is from Ushasree. Her work is another patchwork of nine creative, colourful paintings, each one using a different technique. Read about them here, including why the portrait of her son has a special place.

The very last page shows just how peripatetic the Sketchbook has been. It’s a map of its travels, and the special places it has stopped at.

It is a truly wonderful thing, more amazing than I thought it would be. So creative, so tactile, it is warm and full of love. It has created a bond that has encircled the globe, and has become more than just pages in a sketchbook.

Where’s it off to next? And where will it settle down? We don’t know! Discussions are ongoing, but more urgent now that it has come the full circle. We are looking for an appropriate permanent, but special, home for it, so any ideas are welcome.

Meanwhile I am proudly showing this wonderful treasure to anyone who wants to see it!

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Samplers

My embroidery work is continuing to engage and enthuse me. It is encouraging a number of creative threads to come together. (Do you like that pun, Kate?!) I will tell you more about those mental ramblings at a later date.

My very good friend Liz is a reliable sounding board and creates wonderful embroideries of her own. She helped me to see that I was heading in the direction of trying to put in too much fiddly detail. I am attracted to detail ~ botanic art was great for this! ~ and find abstraction very difficult.

My original thought was to take a part of a watercolour I had been working on and make it into a small embroidery. The photos tell the story.

I then traced the outline onto the tapestry canvas. You can see the beginning of the problem…..too much detail already.

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Outlining the scene in blue cotton (photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2016)

As I was working I was feeling that it was all too cramped. Liz’s comment, that it needed to be more abstract and less of a copy, confirmed this. I would be interested to hear what you think, understanding it is only 10 x 10 cm.

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Work in progress that may not get finished! (Image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2016)

It probably didn’t help that I attached the boulder, which I had carefully woven to fit the image, upside down!

Liz came to the rescue again, loaning me some of her textile books. Stitch Magic: ideas and interpretation by Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn was particularly inspiring.

So, armed with my 10 x 10 squares and the threads I have been working with, I played with stitch samplers. The first was blanket stitch.

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Blanket stitch sampler (Image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2016)

By putting down layers of stitches and by varying the length and direction of the stitches I was able to create a lot of texture. Also it covered the area quickly. Much less tedious than the usual half stitch filling in each hole. Great for foliage.

The next was chain stitch.

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Chain stitch sampler (Image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2016)

This creates a dense flat mat, as you can fill in the spaces with more chains. The creamy buttony things are made with an extended French knot. I can see me using chain stitch for the movement of water, as it gives a great sense of direction.

The third, feather stitch, is my favourite so far, possibly because I am getting the hang of creating these samplers.

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Feather stitch sampler (image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2016)

There are three layers of stitches here ~ a dark olive green, then the lighter lime green and then the shiny yellow green on top. I love the messy texture that it makes. It doesn’t have the definite edge of the blanket stitch, which makes it even more random. However it also doesn’t completely cover the canvas either. You can see it peeking through. So I added in the twisted chain stitches in the yellow green and the darker green. (That darker green is different colours because it is a variegated thread.) I also sewed some blue green cross stitches, but I don’t think they add much. Maybe the thread needed to be thicker.

In my usual impulsive fashion I have already begun a bigger piece using some of these ideas. My aim with it is to keep my ideas really free, just laying down stitches to see where they take me. I am enjoying this journey!

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Kate, who does beautiful quilting, commented on one of my photos from the last blog, remarking how she could see colours and textures to make a quilt. I was delighted that she might like to use it. EllaDee saw it as a woven piece, and I see paintings and maybe tapestries in it. Personally I think we are responding to the textures, the colours and the patterns and rhythms of the bushes as they flow up the bank. So, a couple more photos. I would love to know if they inspire you in any way.

Why are limpet shells so frustrating?

You know that I have been enjoying painting shells lately. You watched me draw oyster shells and I have raved on about other paintings I have done. So I found some limpet shells on the beach at Apollo Bay and was fascinated by their texture. Their tops are worn smooth and pearlescent while their sides are ridged and lined and multi-coloured.

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I played around with watercolour pencils and created some smaller studies. They worked well, and went into my Etsy shop. If I am not happy with one of my works, I won’t put it up for sale.

I wanted to play with painting larger, A4 works, and I thought that I knew how to create one with watercolour pencils. I found out that I didn’t know after all!

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There is always a time in a painting where I feel that it is just not working; that time when I feel like throwing a little tantie on the floor, kicking and screaming. In most cases I work through and find that things suddenly come together, and the painting is how I thought it would be. This was not one of those cases. So I left it and started to work on a watercolour version. Can you guess what the result of that one was?

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Yep, another one that I wasn’t happy with. 😉

Now I am pondering why. I think there are three issues, but I would love to know what you think. (And in answer to my question in the title — in all fairness, the limpet shell is blameless. The frustration is all my own!)

  1. In both cases I lost the highlights. I loved the smaller ones because they were fresh and light. It is the white of the paper that gives watercolour life. Enlarging the shell encouraged me to add more pencil or paint to the ridges, covering the paper with colour. Can you see the second browny ridge from the left in the photo above? That’s the part of the painting that I like, because the white of the paper shows through. That’s how the rest should be.
  2. The follow on from that is if there are fewer highlights, there are fewer deep darks too. I was working in the mid-tone range too much. Nothing was jumping out, zinging.
  3. I went onto the detail too early. My artisitc default position is to go straight to the detail. I am always reminding myself to go from broad to fine, but I guess I just wasn’t listening. 😉 Then I tried to fix things by adding in details.

What do you think? I would love constructive feedback in the comments.

As for the next….well, I can do this, and I want to succeed. So my next painting is going to be a different limpet shell, one with less colour variation, probably in watercolour. I will let you know how I go!

[Remember, if you like something in my Etsy shop, you can buy it directly through me. Just let me know via this blog or annebags@optusnet.com.au]

 

 

Texture on Tuesday

The Photo Booth function on my iPad is rather gimmicky and only held my attention for a short time — all except the kaleidoscope button. I wandered around the garden and came up with some shots that I really liked. My favourite is the last one. Read the caption to see what it is. (Hover your mouse over the photo.)

 

Texture on Tuesday — bark

I love bark. It has such surprising colours and textures. These are street trees, growing just near my house.

As well as painting, I love to use fabrics, threads and beads and it is textures like these that have inspired some of my creations, such as this bag.

Texture — shadows (and an”Oh dear” update)

Shadows on the wall (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2011)
Shadows on the wall
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2011)
Shadows on the footpath (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2012)
Shadows on the footpath
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2012)
Shadows of the lace curtain (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
Shadows of the lace curtain
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
Shadows of the cast iron lacework of my verandah (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
Shadows of the cast iron lacework of my verandah
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
Shadows of the stained glass (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
Shadows of the stained glass
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)

Now, if you have got this far, a quick update on my computer. The other day I told you that my computer had gone on a holiday, and the folks at the Holiday Home (aka the computer repair shop) thought that the hard drive may have crashed. Oh Dear indeed.

But the news was good. Hooray!! It was a software issue on the hard drive — and that is the limit of my knowledge of the problem!

So the Big Computer is sitting proudly on the desk. And the Good News continues……I have even cleaned up the computer desk!!! (Truth must tell — cleaned up is slightly dishonest. You know all that stuff that accumulates around the computer, usually sticky notes and pieces of paper with odd cryptic notes, mostly passwords and usernames that I can’t remember which websites and accounts. They have simply been piled into a tidy pile. I will sort them, promise. Just when I work out a good filing system. 😉  )

Astounding exhibition — Louise Saxton

'Last Gasp' by Louise Saxton
‘Last Gasp’ by Louise Saxton

Louise Saxton’s exhibition at the Gould Galleries, South Yarra was mind blowing. She pins reclaimed/recycled material onto tulle to create these stunning works. The close up shows more. If you look very closely you can see the pins. On some works she used a pin with a white end to create the flash of highlight in the eye of the bird.

Close up of 'Last Gasp', Louise Saxton
Close up of ‘Last Gasp’, Louise Saxton
'Black Prince' by Louise Saxton
‘Black Prince’ by Louise Saxton

Look how cleverly she uses the colour and tone of the lace and material to create the highlight on the back of the insect, and so makes us believe it is 3D.

Close up of 'Black Prince'
Close up of ‘Black Prince’

But Saxton’s creativity goes beyond the beauty of her works. They all reference work of other great naturalist painters. ‘Last Gasp’ was after Maria Sibylla Merian’s painting, as was ‘Maria’s Saturn’. Maria Sibylla Merian lived in the 1600s and travelled to Surinam to paint. Her story deserves a blog post of its own. Saxton has faithfully reconstructed some of John James Audubon’s paintings, as well as John and Elizabeth Gould‘s.

‘Ellis’ Paradise’  was in response to a bird of paradise painting by Ellis Rowan, an Australian botanic artist, who also deserves her own post. Look at the sumptuousness that Saxton achieves. This was my favourite, and I marvelled at the detail she created with just the perfect piece of lace and embroidery. By the way, this work was huge!

'Ellis' Paradise' by Louise Saxton
‘Ellis’ Paradise’ by Louise Saxton
Close up of 'Ellis' Paradise'
Close up of ‘Ellis’ Paradise’

These are only a small selection of her work on display. This site has a gallery of her work, including images of her pinning the lace onto the tulle. Her exhibition is on until May 31. If you can get to South Yarra in Melbourne you are in for a treat. Louise Saxton’s blog link is here. As she says on her post, none of her birds and insects will be coming home with her after the show, as they all sold! How wonderful for her to have a sell out show, especially in this climate.

(Apologies for the rather ordinary photos. And yes, I was given permission to take them. :))

Texture on Thursday — light and water

The last of Summer. Photos of light on water.

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
Somers Beach (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
Somers Beach (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
Somers Beach (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
Somers Beach (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
Somers Beach (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
Somers Beach (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
Somers Beach (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
Somers Beach (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
Heading home, Somers Beach (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
Heading home, Somers Beach (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)